The Wise Triumvirate: Janice Valgoi, Peggy Companion, Diane Leach advancing VCIA’s mission and strengthening the captive industry

A Director of Finance, Director of Membership, and Director of Education walk into a bar…jokes aside, Peggy Companion, Janice Valgoi, and Diane Leach have been central in building the high reputation and strong impact of VCIA. What drives them? A deep admiration for the good-natured people in the captive industry.

Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them. Here’s our final staff spotlight, a tripleheader!, on the three smart and experienced women that are vital to VCIA’s success. Read up on all of our staff so you can get to now us a bit better before our big summer event. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!

Director of Education Janice Valgoi

Janice in her happy place on Lake Champlain

Since 2012, Janice Valgoi has brought many smiles to people in the captive industry. She takes great care in fostering relationships with people and companies, and works attentively in setting up sponsors for the annual conference while managing member needs throughout the year. Something you may not know about Janice, she used to be a serious synchronized swimmer, doing routines in the water and getting chewed up by Canadian geese. She loves dancing whether on land or sea!

Naturally her mind focuses on the conference this time of year, and when asked about what she’s excited about, she has a difficult time choosing. “To be honest I’m excited about everything! It’s very fulfilling to see everyone benefit from the conference. I think we give sponsors and exhibitors a really great value. There’s nothing better than bringing everyone together and that’s what the 2022 conference will be like. The VCIA staff has worked so hard to put it all together and make it a wonderful experience. It’s a very cool high to complete it!”

Director of Finance Peggy Companion

Peggy enjoying the view

Four weeks into Peggy’s tenure at VCIA the office flooded. Her room was the only part of the floor that didn’t get damaged, and so she stayed in the building while everyone worked remotely. It was quite the initiation. She had just finished an accounting degree after juggling many jobs and working as a single mother. Before graduating, her teacher came to her and said, “I am going to change your life today.” He was neighbors with then VCIA president Molly Lambert and set up a meeting for Peggy with her. Peggy hasn’t looked back (minus the flood!) since.

Raised in Long Island, Peggy has lived in many places: Louisiana, Connecticut, Florida, the list goes on! Her work with VCIA comes back to the people she serves and connects with. “The staff, the industry, they are all lovely, supportive, intelligent people.” She sees this year’s Annual Conference as a great opportunity to witness the positive changes VCIA President Kevin Mead has begun making. “Kevin’s got smart plans and visions for the organization. I’m excited about the pathways he’s creating for VCIA.”

Peggy plays the piano and guitar and wants to brush up on her skills. She sails and golfs when she can, but there’s something else. “Peggy’s hidden talent is that she can be a professional singer. She has a wonderful sense of humor and sings a perfect show tune,” Diane revealed, to Peggy’s chagrin.

Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach

Diane on the trail

October 2022 marks 35 years of employment for Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach. She’s been with VCIA literally from the start. “I keep learning something new with VCIA and the captive industry. It’s what keeps me going, this constant evolution of knowledge.”

Diane puts her heart into designing the annual conference. Of course, this year has added significance because it’s the first time since 2019 that it will be back live and in person. She looks at the VCIA Conference as an enormous tool to solve challenges and brainstorm new ideas for the captive industry, and she finds a common theme that will be on display this August. “Change. Change of the guard with the DFR. Change of leadership with the VCIA. Change with hot topics and the incoming generation of captive professionals. This industry responds well to anticipating needs and providing answers to them, and that’s what the conference will be all about.”

If Diane’s not perfecting details for the conference, she’s seeking out a tranquil place on earth. Nature brings her peace, and practicing yoga has kept her more centered as a person. Her best thinking comes out on the trail, or on the mat. She contributes her well being to the support VCIA has provided. “I have always tried to take care of myself and VCIA has encouraged that for all staff.”

I consider VCIA as my third child. And every year that child gets married again and I get to plan a large wedding to celebrate.

VCIA Director of Education Diane Leach

What’s most important to Diane? Being a mother. “My greatest joy is being the mother of my two daughters. I love the work-life balance VCIA provides. To have been a present parent means so much to me. VCIA has been so kind and generous to me and because of that I consider VCIA as my third child. And every year that child gets married again and I plan a large wedding to celebrate.”

The Wise Triumvirate Shaping VCIA for the Better

Sandy Bigglestone: The Perfect Captive Successor to Dave Provost

Continuity. Experience. Expertise. 3 reasons (among many) for why Vermont is the Gold Standard for captive domicile decisions. The same 3 reasons describe Sandy Bigglestone, who this week was appointed as the new Deputy Commissioner of the Captive Insurance Division. Since the NBA Finals are underway, I’m inclined to say this is a slam dunk choice for everyone interested in captives in Vermont!

The Board, staff and members of the VCIA are delighted that Vermont Governor Phil Scott knew exactly where to turn to lead the division into a profitable future, and we join the entire industry, in Vermont and beyond, in congratulating Sandy. She is hardly a new face to the captive industry, and I hope that she will forgive me when I mention that she is 25 years into her career at the DFR. I said it once and I’ll say it again, Sandy will ensure stability, consistency, and quality that is the hallmark of regulation in Vermont, while also challenging staff and other stakeholders to develop and improve.

L to R: 2022 VCIA Conference Chair Ian Davis, appointed Deputy Commissioner Sandy Bigglestone, and retiring Deputy Commissioner Dave Provost

The upcoming VCIA conference from August 8 – 11 in Burlington offers a great chance for members and other stakeholders in the industry to meet up with Sandy and congratulate her. You can register for the conference here (and don’t forget to book your airfare and lodging soon, they go fast!) “Hot Topics with Dave Provost” on the last day of the conference, with incoming and outgoing Deputy Commissioners, will indeed be a hot ticket!

The upcoming VCIA conference from August 8 – 11 in Burlington offers a great chance for members and other stakeholders in the industry to meet up with Sandy and congratulate her.

Many major captive players enthusiastically received the news of Sandy’s appointment. Here are some snippets.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott: “Sandy has decades of experience in licensing and regulating captives in Vermont, the top domicile in the country. It made sense to look within for the best person to lead the industry and the obvious choice was Sandy.

Sandy’s soon-to-be predecessor Dave Provost: “Sandy will carry on the mission of the captive division and be a thoughtful regulator. She has the experience and skills and new ideas to help guide the industry forward.”

Mary Ellen Moriarty, VP of Property & Casualty at EIIA. “Sandy is a polished professional, goes the extra mile when necessary, and wants to see us thrive. She is the perfect person to guide Vermont.”

“Sandy is a natural leader, and we are happy to have her stepping into this role,” said Interim DFR Commissioner Kevin Gaffney.

Upwards and onwards to the Sandy Bigglestone and the Vermont Captive Industry…see you all in August!

Summer Conference Registration Opens!

Meticulously planning, securing keynotes and hammering out the schedule, we’ve waited all year for this and now the “gates are opened” for our first in-person conference in three years. We can’t wait to gather with the captive industry’s best and brightest this August in Burlington.

Our 2022 Conference is sure to be a memorable one!

We’re officially launched! Please visit our conference registration page to sign up for the biggest and strongest captive insurance event this summer on the global calendar. No matter your experience level, you will find so much in our conference that will develop you professionally and advance your career. We have a full slate of dynamic educational sessions, curated networking and benchmarking events, and an environment conducive for making business deals. Simply put, you are sure to add to you captive knowledge at the 2022 VCIA Conference, and more than that, it will be a triumphant celebration of the captive industry at large. Be sure to follow the #VCIA2022 hashtag on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I should mention (before I enlist you in another conference prize opportunity!) that I highly recommend booking your hotel and travel flight plans as soon as possible in order to avoid any complications. There are rooms still available at the VCIA group rate, but they are going fast, so head to our conference lodging page and be directed to local hotels who carry our group rate.

I’m a horse racing fan and I enjoy placing some modest bets down when I’m at the track. In that spirit, we are expecting a banner year, and as insurance professionals you are all concerned with risk and the odds that something might or might not occur. So, I introduce you to the VCIA version of ‘How Many Jelly Beans are in the Jar?’  I believe that our total attendance count will be 1,048. Are you taking that over or under? My guess includes exhibitors, staff and all classifications of attendees – i.e. anyone with a name badge! Let me know your number, and if I’m the closest, I will make a $50 personal donation to ICCIE (www.iccie.org), the captive insurance industry’s educational non-profit.  If someone beats me, I will make a $100 donation in their name!  We will, of course, also recognize the best prognosticator! Send your guesses to kmead@vcia.com

Need a little help to formulate your guess? Check out our Conference Attendee page to see who has already registered!

How many people will be in attendance at our conference? Take a guess and email Kevin!

See you in August – if not before! 

VCIA Staff Spotlight: Dave Rapuano

Graphic Design extraordinaire. Fluent in all things tech. When he’s not making sure webinars are going smooth, you can find him on the slopes or playing volleyball. Meet VCIA’s Communications Assistant, Dave Rapuano

Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them, so read this staff spotlight, the two that profiled myself and Francis McGill, and look out for the rest in the weeks to come. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!

Dave Rapuano is the VCIA go-to person when troubleshooting a computer issue. An on-his-feet problem solver, he uses his background in digital media to help build a reliable and efficient ecosystem of VCIA’s online presence, whether that be our website, webinars, or the virtual conferences in 2020 and 2021.

An on-his-feet problem solver, VCIA staff member Dave Rapuano uses his background in digital media to help build a reliable and efficient ecosystem of VCIA’s online presence

Dave doing what he loves best!

A Connecticut native, he moved to the Green Mountain State to attend Champlain College and explore the bounty of outdoor activities available in Vermont. Snowboarder? Check. Hiker? Yup. He also coaches a high school varsity volleyball team. And what else? Dave is an avid fly fisherman! Ask where he’s favorite fishing spot is and he’ll tell you, “Camel’s hump way up high on a little creek catching beautiful wild brook trout.”

Make sure to say hello to Dave at the next gathering! Stay tuned for another staff spotlight soon, and remember to take some notes so you can win a prize at the conference!

Registration opens May 16th!

Staff Spotlight: Director of Communications Francis McGill

A newbie gardener. Film, music, and book enthusiast. When he’s not at work he’s probably changing a diaper. Meet VCIA’s Director of Communications, Francis McGill

As we approach the 2022 VCIA Conference, we are going to introduce you to VCIA staff. Of course, many ‘need no introduction,’ but with many new members and after two years away, it won’t hurt. So please get to know Francis. And do please play close attention, we there will be a quiz—I’m serious! At the conference we will ask a few questions about our staff and those who answer them correctly will be eligible to win a prize or two!

VCIA’s Director of Communications Francis McGill

Francis became VCIA’s Director of Communications in January 2022, and he’s pleased to play a role in creatively promoting VCIA values and programs. He’s especially enjoyed e-meeting so many folks in the industry and looks forward to solidifying those relationships come the VCIA Spring Mixer and at the Annual Conference. That captive insurance spans so many industries—from healthcare, to manufacturing and entertainment companies, to higher education, you name it!—has really sparked Francis’s interest in realizing how complex it is to safeguard employees and company property, among other things. Rarely thinking of insurance besides his healthcare and home and auto, he’s impressed now that there are so many different kinds that captives cover!

Francis has enjoyed e-meeting so many folks in the industry and looks forward to solidifying those relationships come the VCIA Spring Mixer and at the Annual Conference.

In his home life, Francis enjoys living in the “country” up near the Green Mountains with two cats, his wife, and their 6 month old son, Herschel. Francis and Charlotte are first time parents and have experienced the range of emotions that parenthood brings, from the tremendous excitement of seeing their boy roll over for the first time, to the tremendous fatigue of waking in the middle of the night to feed him, and then starting the day off bright and early at 5:30am. Herschel is their pride and joy, and yes, the cats are getting used to him, somewhat.

Francis lives somewhere up that road!

Fun facts about Francis

  • He and his wife grow vegetables in a greenhouse on their property; they are currently harvesting delicious spinach that overwintered
  • The last film he saw that made a powerful impression on him was The Power of The Dog, partly because of the cinematography and partly because of the amazing soundtrack (done by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood)
  • He reads for pleasure during the few minutes of free time he might have at the end of the day. He subscribes to Harper’s magazine and loves its high-quality writing. Especially for finance and insurance people, he recommends this fascinating and funny profile on the Bitcoin scene in Miami

All in all, communication matters most to Francis—how we share and what we share. He greatly appreciates that his role at VCIA allows him to learn so much about captive insurance while wordsmithing and designing communications in all kinds of forms that compel people to connect with and participate in the VCIA mission.

Make sure to say hello to him at the next gathering! Have an idea or want to just drop him a line? Email Francis at fmcgill@vcia.com. Stay tuned for another staff spotlight soon, and remember to take some notes so you can win a prize at the conference!

Registration opens May 16th!

Productive RISKWORLD RIMS Conference Concludes

My first RIMS Conference is in the bag. What an impressive production the Risk Management Society had. Indeed it felt like “the center of the Risk Management universe” as they say. The experience has further fueled my desire to make VCIA’s August 8th-11th annual conference the best yet!

From a Vermont captive perspective, our trip to San Francisco was very successful. There was a steady stream of captive owners on day one with potential new captives and service providers visiting us. Our travel-sized maple syrup swag and the ice cream rolling in at 10:30 may lured in some hungry prospects, because surely nothing beats ice cream with maple syrup drizzled on top.

Vermont representing strong at RIMS 2022

Even on the final day three the volume of traffic may have slowed, but the quality interactions continued. I still work as a captive student, absorbing as much information as I can about the industry and regulatory processes. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed building out my professional network with so many interesting people. All in all Team Vermont held many solid and productive meetings which generated innovative ideas on how we can help captives thrive in the Green Mountain State.

Shoutout to the State of Vermont’s Captive Insurance Economic Development Director Brittany Nevins who does a terrific job of demonstrating why Vermont’s captive insurance industry is the gold standard for an onshore captive insurance domicile. 

All in all Team Vermont held many solid and productive meetings which generated innovative ideas on how we can help captives thrive in the Green Mountain State.

One interesting aspect was the interest from Latin America – A good harbinger for our planned 2023 Roadshow in Mexico City. Stay tuned for more interesting programs as we continue to develop them!

Plan Ahead for VCIA’s August Conference

My crystal ball proved correct when I predicted Kansas to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament. My next fortune-telling stunt? I foresee airfare and lodging for our conference to be quite competitive, so book sooner rather than later!

The VCIA Conference is already cropping up on the horizon…

Anyone bet on Kansas based on my advice of last week? Turned out it was the opposite of a kiss of death: the Jayhawks beat Villanova in the Final Four and won a close game against the UNC Tar Heels in the championship! 

I usually have zero ability at this sort of thing, seriously, but I do have another tip for you as solid as the Jayhawks winning it all…

The 2022 VCIA Conference will be epic. I’ve heard from scores of people about how excited they are to return to Vermont. We are a small city (Burlington) and a small state with a big heart. Logistically that means there’s only a limited amount of lodging and airfare options, so it’s crucial you start making your plans quite soon. Some hotels are already fully booked, so follow this link to ensure you receive the conference hotel block discount.

The 2022 VCIA Conference will be epic. I’ve heard from scores of people about how excited they are to return to Vermont.

I would also suggest making airline reservations if you are coming in from out of town. Kayak, among a host of other sites, tracks all available flights to Burlington airport. Like with lodging, the sooner the better!

If you are not on our mailing list, visit our website and sign up through the mailing list pop up bar. You can also submit your information on our conference landing page at http://vcia22.live/bvt and you will be alerted to registration. Our May 16th registration is approaching fast and I encourage you to start putting your plans in place!

I’ve seen the demand to meet in person at other events, and listened to the members and stakeholders talking up our event. With my Kansas prediction, I’ve earned my chops as a fortune teller. This next bet is a bit of a no-brainer!

Captive Madness

NCAA Forms a Captive— in Vermont!

Many Vermonters in the captive industry might have had an NCAA bracket that had UVM going all the way. Locals supporting locals is what we do here. Sadly, Arkansas stood in their way, and UVM came up a little short in the first round. They didn’t bust the nation’s brackets, but there were other perpetrators—I’m looking at you, Saint Peters Peacocks. The absence of the Catamounts from the Final Four makes it no less intriguing, but you might wonder, where’s the link with VCIA and captive insurance?

The Vermont Captive Insurance Industry is a Powerhouse Program

The answer lies in the fact that the NCAA, perhaps mindful of the hit that their marquee event took in 2020 and 2021, recently formed a captive, and not only that, but they have made its domicile in the Green Mountain State. Vermont’s most popular (and free) newspaper, Seven Days reports that the captive activated at the start of March and could “potentially save the association millions of dollars.” Taking on both D & O and event cancellation coverage, the entity has been funded with $175M, and will be consolidated into the financial statements of the NCAA.

The pandemic has raised the profile of Vermont’s captive insurance industry as more businesses have sought to self-insure, according to state officials.

ANNE WALLACE ALLEN, Seven Days

While the University of Vermont will not be crowned winners after this upcoming Monday’s championship, the State of Vermont surely won an impactful and lasting relationship with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. VCIA is happy to announce that their captive formation has joined our association on a free, first year trial basis.

My prediction for the Final Four winner (which is the sporting equivalent of a kiss of death)? Kansas Jayhawks. Who do you have?

A Busy and Productive Week with VCIA

Captive Roadshow and Hot Topic Webinar Major Successes on Back-to-Back Days

2022 brings a wealth of enthusiasm and optimism not only for VCIA but for the entire captive industry. The major cause of this excitement derives from the simple fact that we are all getting together again. Catching up. Building out networks. Collaborating on new ideas. The possibilities are endless when we’re all in the same room. (Which is why we’re so thrilled to bring back our conference this August!)

It’s no small feat then, that this week VCIA’s returned with its first in-person Original Captive Roadshow since November 2019!  In Indianapolis on Tuesday an audience of over sixty professionals listened intently and asked great questions as a panel of Vermont industry experts (Sandy Bigglestone, Dave Provost, Brittany Nevins) enjoyed a captive conversation facilitated by Hylant’s Anne Marie Towle. The Vermont team outlined the process and structures of captives in Vermont and why captives can thrive in the Green Mountain State.

2022 brings a wealth of enthusiasm and optimism not only for VCIA but for the entire captive industry. The major cause of this excitement derives from the simple fact that we are all getting together again.

Following that, two captive owners Valynda Laird and Will Lehman explained their business case and development of their own entities that have done so well due to captive formation.  The feedback was very positive and we are already deep in planning for the next two. The Big Apple just might be seeing our Roadshow before the year lets out.

A great turnout it Indy

Not forgetting our Hot Topic Webinar series, the very next day our March webinar had a similar number of attendees for a great session on Strategic Planning for Captive Optimization and Future Success. Many thanks to the erudite panelists, and the State of Vermont’s own Christine Brown who moderated the talk.

These events and others, both online and in-person, have served us well as we identify in-demand topics and exceptional presenters for our August 2022 conference. We are about 6 weeks away from registration, but you can get a ‘sneak peak’ of the entire schedule and sign up for more info at VCIA.com.

Cheers to you, captive learning, and captive collaboration. Happy spring!

Captive Insurance and Rugby: Staff Spotlight on President Kevin Mead

Captive Insurance is a bit like rugby. Let me tell you why.

Just three weeks in, and I have quickly learned some truths about the captive insurance industry. Truth number one: how badly it is understood by those outside. Even those that have a knowledge of risk or insurance sometimes seem to shake their heads and mutter darkly when the subject is raised. Truth number two: that external lack of knowledge (or potentially confusion) means that the industry itself is tight knit, cooperative, and friendly.

Over 25 years ago, authors Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff co-authored a book called Co-Opetition in which they used game theory to suggest that businesses should cooperate to “grow the size of the pie,” and then compete for a larger slice of that enlarged pie.  Seeing the way in which board members and other VCIA volunteers are working together for the benefit of the association and for the industry is almost a case study in what the authors refer to.

“Real success comes from actively shaping the game you play—from making the game you want, not taking the game you find.”

― Barry J. Nalebuff, Co-Opetition

A second thing that has struck me is the number of rugby people there are in the captive industry. And there are similarities! To the uninitiated, rugby looks dangerous, risky, and somewhat unmanaged. To those that know the game, it is subtle, nuanced, athletic, and referred to as “the game they play in heaven.” On the field, rugby players are intensely competitive, but once the final whistle blows the bruises and battles are forgotten and a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support comes to the fore.

So, rugby as a metaphor for captive insurance? Perhaps that is too much of a reach! But my predecessor, Rich Smith, commented to me multiple times that the essence of the VCIA was built around mutual respect, understanding, and a sense of all being in the same league—if not all on the same team.

For me, rugby season is about to start up. This Saturday, the 19th, I will be refereeing at a tournament put on by the University of Vermont women in Burlington. Feel free to check this out or any rugby game in your location and see if my comments on the similarities hold any water!